Tambourine Army Rising

While we argue about whether Stella’s approach was wrong or right, “the Caribbean has among the highest rates of sexual assault in the world. According to the United Nations statistics from 2015, one in three women have experienced sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives. And it is estimated that 14-38% of women have experienced intimate partner violence at least once.” The Tambourine Army is focused on relieving Jamaica of the scourge of child sexual abuse and violence against women.They have taken a deliberate decision to stand with survivors and that is but one of the reasons I stand in solidarity. I don’t want anyone else to have to endure feeling like I did… yucky and alone.

If it weren’t for Pastor Donald Stewart who noticed that I displayed behavioural signs of a victim, I would have probably still been silently suffering and not given a space to heal, recover, feel empowered and delivered. But what happens to those who don’t have a Donald Stewart? Do they continue to suffer in silence? The Tambourine Army understands this need.

I have followed the Facebook posts of 2 of the leaders in particular – Nadeen Spence and Donaree Muirhead – and I have found them to be sincere (not a synonym for perfect), fearless, competent, passionate, militant, organized, empathetic, experienced and fed up enough to be disruptive, consistent and persistent in their advocacy. The team of leaders seem diverse in knowledge of law, human rights and gender-based advocacy, youth development, project management, proposal writing, social work, cyberactivism etc.

While we argue about possible ‘hidden agendas’, there’s a girl somewhere trying to commit suicide because she’s tired of being sexually harrassed, molested and/or raped. 

There is the possibility of a hidden agenda in all groups because all groups are made up of individuals who have differences in opinions, values and priorities. I remember ‘The Jamaicans For Justice’ received similar criticisms and accusations of having a hidden agenda: being partisan, anti-police and one sided in justice. Why should the possibility of a hidden agenda prevent you from supporting what’s on the table now? If the Tambourine Army eventually deviates from its original objectives or intended purpose/focus, you are free to withdraw your support as you are allowed to change your mind based on new information and agendas. This is not a cult and you are not a prisoner.

The noise you’re hearing by some of the Tambourine Army’s oppositions, who seem like well meaning warriors of ‘by the books’ advocacy, is merely a distraction and diversion tactic. If the noise confuses you enough to keep you silent, indifferent or from taking a stand, they have served their purpose well. Forget the poker face, if you’re clutching at straws as to why you will not support, you’ve already shown your hand.

 “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

Should I not join a Service Club whose mission is in line with mine if I am a JLP supporter but the president is PNP? Or not work at a company because I’m an atheist and the CEO is Christian? Do I ask not to be operated on by the best surgeon available if I’m heterosexual and he/she is gay?

I know Christians who celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ and it’s customs of gift giving and family dinners who know how Christmas originated and know that it was not originally intended to celebrate the birth of Christ but they continue to celebrate it and say Merry Christmas because of the new meaning they have given to it. The Tambourine army is no different. It’s origins may have been, to you, an unfavourable incident or person (read: lesbian) but it’s mission, mandate, objectives and plans are clear to those who take the time to read and be informed.

I went to a Catholic High School and I wasn’t Catholic and having completed my studies and graduated, I’m still not Catholic. All I’m saying is, we did not march on our differences. We marched because our focus and desired outcomes are the same. My allegiance is to the cause. That is, healing and empowerment for survivors, changing cultural attitudes towards sexual violence and putting an end to sexual abuse, rape and all other forms of violence against women and girls.

They are not the only group tackling this monster of sexual violence. There is space for all groups fighting for this cause and you have a right to educate yourself and support the one you think is consistent with your demeanor, class, decorum, ethics and/or values. There are some cases where the pen is mightier and some where the sword is necessary. I marched in solidarity with the Tambourine Army because I believe in what it stands for, I think their approach to dealing with the problem is thorough, disruptive and necessary, and I believe the team will effectively execute on its plans.

“We decided that we would not ask, “are you sure?” “what were you wearing?” “why did you?” Our radical posture comes from denying the prevailing rape culture the right to direct and interfere with our narrative, for that reason we had to identify shaming, silencing and victim blaming and engage in a kind of mental and emotional cleanse. We had to disrupt the cultural and historical narrative which puts women’s well being and in this case women as victims and survivors of rape below men’s preoccupation with their ‘good name’.
We decided that in the case of a victim/survivor her well being was more important than the potential damage to a man’s good name…” – Nadeen Spence

The Tambourine Army is guided by five strategic objectives:

1. Provide multi- sectoral support and alternative healing spaces for survivors of sexual assault

2. Reduce and eliminate sexual grooming of children

3. Strengthen the capacity of state and community institutions and agencies

4. Positively change the public narrative about, and attitudes towards survivors of sexual violence

5. Build the largest sustainable Jamaican coalition against sexual violence.

Ask yourself, how many police, lawyers, teachers, doctors, politicians, pastors, accountants, engineers, business men etc stand to lose their reputation (and freedom to continue violating) if the Tambourine Army’s mandate is met?

I support and advocate for the #saytheirnames initiative as I believe our silence is their greatest weapon. I believe sexual predators will almost allow you to fight freely for your rights as long as you leave their name(s) unsaid. In fact, they will even pretend like they care about your cause and “fight” alongside you as long as you leave their reputation untarnished. Why didn’t they arrest Stella before or on the day of the march since they knew she would have been there? I believe some powerful people who are guilty didn’t expect that the march would have been as supported and impactful as it was. They probably saw the social media outcry and #saytheirnames initiative as another 9 Days Wonder but after observing the traction it was gaining they felt the need to put an end to it before some more dirty laundry got exposed. This movement makes them uncomfortable and scared shitless because they can no longer ignore advocacy tweets and Facebook statuses if we #saytheirnames

Stella’s arrest, in my opinion, was meant to create havoc, fear and division, a ploy to show who is boss and give some powerful people time to clean house (read: threaten or bribe victims so they don’t say their names). Those who are saying the movement is too angry or aggressive probably have never been raped and therefore speak from a position of privilege not empathy. 

There is a need to protect every Jamaican from sexual predators and violence. It would seem this arrest was not only about her “breaking cyber laws”. Lisa Hanna had several hundred threats on her life from several valid social media accounts which she reported… to my knowledge not one arrest was made. This is not playing tit for tat either because I don’t subscribe to arguments that ‘nothing should be fixed if all is not fixed (at the same time)’. I’m just wondering why is Lisa’s life less valuable than the reputation of the man who Stella named as a rapist on her social media page?

The Tambourine Army is not against law and order. I attended the march and saw mutual respect and cooperation between the leaders and police. The crowds were at all times encouraged to follow the directives of the police.

As long as the Tambourine Army continues to have as its forefront and focus the eradication and protection of women and girls from sexual violence and predictors then I will do what I can when I can to support. Who feels it knows it. And I’m not talking about the Pastor who felt the bang of the Tambourine on his head. I’m referring to all the women and girls whose lives and confidences have been altered by sexual violence. Enough is enough! We will be ‘loud’, ‘vulgar’, and ‘aggressive” if we have to. We will not be silenced. We will not be ignored or tuned out. We will not lay silent on our backs like missionaries and continue to be f*cked by this culture of sexual violence. We will not be told to use less teeth in advocacy so as to please the unconscionable dick-heads that lay comfortable in their bed of patriarchy. This is not foreplay or charm-school. This is war! And we #nahmekdemwin

Tambourine Army Rising.

Survivor & Victor,

Queen Stacia.

You too can support the Tambourine Army:

Donate:

https://www.gofundme.com/support-the-tambourine-army 

Events and Initiatives:

https://www.facebook.com/tambourinearmy 

Volunteer:
Email tambourinearmy@gmail.com

Other Perspectives on The Tambourine Army:

Kei Miller

Michael Abrahams

Ingrid Riley

Petchary

Kimberly Roach

To see more of what people are saying on social media, use hashtags #TambourineArmy #NahMekDemWin #SayTheirNames #TambourineArmyRising

Follow me on Instagram: @staciadavidson

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Why I Support The Tambourine Army

I grew up in the Pentecostal Church where we made a joyful noise (read: screamed tongues, beat drums, fingered guitars & banged tambourines). But that’s not why I showed up on March 11 to march with the Tambourine Army. I didn’t show up to play church, to be a part of some 9 Days Wonder, Social Media Hype or to wallow in the pain of my past or that of my friends’. I showed up because I know what it feels like to be sexually taken advantage of, to want to be heard, healed, understood, supported and defended.

30 years ago, I remember telling my helper that my next door neighbour had sexually molested me. I probably didn’t use those exact words since I was only 6 at the time but I remember her response… that it was normal and that she too was molested. I think she even made an excuse for him by alluding to the fact that his wife had migrated. It was not until I was older that I understood that she was suggesting that he must have been sexually deprived and horny due to the prolonged absence of his wife. I guess that somehow legitimized him seeking sexual pleasure from a 6 year old.

In that moment, I felt my tears meant nothing as they were brushed aside almost as if that experience was some kind of rite of passage that all girls had to go through. She assured me, “It’s normal. You’ll be ok. Every woman I know has experienced the same thing.”

Somehow, it still didn’t feel right. But if the one adult I had the guts to tell said there was nothing I could do about it then all that was left for my 6 years old embarrassed self to do was to cave in the silence and secrecy that my molester had vowed me to. For years, I did just that. I stayed silent. I blamed myself. My self-esteem was low. And I felt alone.

Many years later, a friend told me that she was raped (more than once) and one of the persons that raped her was her brother. My story paled in comparison and I began to view what happened to me as relatively insignificant. I thought I was being “ungrateful” and that I had no right to feel hurt or be heard. I wanted to ease her pain instead of mine.

As I grew older, more persons confided. This other friend said she was molested at the alter in church and years later she was also raped by a taxi man while on her way to school. Then there was the friend who was molested nightly by her father until she retaliated and was forced to move out of the house by her mom. Every time I heard these stories, my heart ached. There was something brewing in me and I felt these stories needed to be heard and something needed to be done.

Fast forward to recently when the #lifeinleggings movement and hashtag on social media got viral, then news of multiple murders of women and children and multiple allegations of rape by pastors in Jamaica became rampant. Those publicly shared experiences of victimization, violence, assault, rape and molestation, in addition to the surge in reported cases of violence against women and children on the news, seemed to rehash wounds, connect survivors in solidarity, inspire militancy and gave birth to what we now know as the Tambourine Army.

Origins of Tambourine Army

“Early one Sunday in January, a group of women arrived at a church in the rolling, green hills of rural Jamaica. They were not there to worship, but to show support for a young victim of sexual abuse: a 15-year-old girl, who had allegedly been raped by the church’s pastor a few weeks earlier.

The 14 activists entered the church and sat in silence, but angry words broke out when they were approached by a different pastor; the confrontation culminated with him being struck in the head by a tambourine.

The incident marked the beginnings of the Tambourine Army, a new organization to fight gender-based violence in Jamaica…”

Read More Here 

And Here

I had wanted to focus on this same issue for years and I attempted with my Silence is Violence Campaign where I publicly shared my story through my blog after being nudged by the Bill Cosby rape allegations and then the Trump ‘grab the pussy’ incident. It was my intention to raise funds to support organization(s) working to end rape and child molestation and offering support to victims. I wanted victims, witnesses and supporters of the cause to speak out, break the silence and stand in solidarity. I wanted us to stop blaming and shaming victims and put the blame exactly where it belongs: At the feet of the perpetrators and the culture and system that fuel, normalize and support these behaviours. 

I was therefore overjoyed when I heard about the Tambourine Army and read about its purpose, mission, objectives, agenda and plans. I believed that it would be more impactful if I used my energy and resources to support the Tambourine Army rather than try to start something of my own.

Sure, I understand the perspectives of those who won’t support the Tambourine Army because of its origins of Latoya Nugent (Stella) using the Tambourine to, as I put it, try to knock the lies and perversions out of the head of that Pastor. They argue the movement was founded on violence/assault and therefore goes against the very thing it fights for.

But some things are not black or white, some things are perspective and context.

“By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence used by the slave master.” -Walter Rodney

How can I use that incident to demonize the Tambourine Army if I, having been in the same situation, could have reacted similarly?

Had I visited that Moravian Church with my Tambourine that Sunday and saw my molester and having confronted him and he denied it, I too would have banged him in his head with my Tambourine… or my Bible… or my cellphone… or my fist. The point is, I could have easily been Stella.

To be clear though, the movement’s purpose is not to go around assaulting pastors sexual predators with tambourines. This movement is also not about Stella, (or her sexual orientation). By making it about her, you are diverting the focus, creating a distraction, and helping to dilute it’s effectiveness. The mandate is bigger and more pressing. We are in a crisis. Our women and children are being violated daily. These criminals are deadly! They are physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically assaulting, killing and raping our women and children. Drastic measures are necessary. We are the ones being crucified – ‘nailed’ and ‘hammered’ – yet we are waiting on a saviour that will not come. We, as women, must therefore take matters in our own hands because that’s where our salvation lies.

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, have gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” -Assata Shakur

Survivor & Victor,

Queen Stacia.

You too can support the Tambourine Army:

Donate:

https://www.gofundme.com/support-the-tambourine-army 

Events and Initiatives:

https://www.facebook.com/tambourinearmy 

Volunteer:
Email tambourinearmy@gmail.com

Other Perspectives on The Tambourine Army:

Kei Miller

Michael Abrahams

Ingrid Riley

Petchary

Kimberly Roach

To see more of what people are saying on social media, use hashtags #TambourineArmy #NahMekDemWin #SayTheirNames #TambourineArmyRising

Follow me on Instagram: @staciadavidson

Natural Icon Beauty Feature- RASHIKA

I first met Rashika Powell in person a couple of years ago on a  Yaad Trendz photoshoot.  Her hair was processed at the time but now she sports her natural tresses with such fierceness and confidence. A Natural Icon Beauty in the true sense blessed with style and flair as unique as her personality.

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Born in St. Ann, but now living in Kingston, Rashika is a product junkie and budding entrepreneur, and as she puts it, she has a tonne of Organic hair products at home just sitting there.  Maybe that’s why the 24 years old Natural Icon Beauty has already started her own business called Rashibelle Naturals which offers All Natural skin and hair care products. She started this while pursuing a BSc Degree in Sociology at the University of the West Indies. When asked her vision in life, she replied “Like everyone else, I want to be successful. I want to own a business specialized in all natural skin and hair care solutions then expand to one that deals with our overall health and how to care for ourselves using just the things the earth provides. Ultimately, I want to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts and Cultural Enterprise Management. After my masters, I want to promote various cultural events that will highlight and educate persons about the Caribbean aesthetics.”

Her dreams are big and though getting there will require hardwork, Rashika knows how to have fun. In fact, I know Rashika loves to dance and she’s happiest while dancing but I wanted to know more about her personality and her ‘Natural trod’ so I asked her a few other questions:

NIB: Tell me about your personality. 

Rashika: Oh Dear, it is so hard to describe my personality. I am somewhere between crazy and laid back; if that makes any sense. For the most part, I am Jovial, easy going, I love to talk and laugh and ensure that the people around me are well entertained. I do have my crazy, spontaneous moments at times also.

NIB: What’s your personal style?  

Rashika: I love unconventional hairstyles and clothing. I like to be bold and unique with the things I wear and the way I style my hair. I also love all things Afrocentric and Vintage! I am obsessed with Tribal and African print clothing and items.

NIB: Why natural hair?

Rashika: I had a relaxer, I wore weaves and I can honestly say that those styles didn’t suit me the way my natural hair does, so six years ago I decided to wear my crown the way it grows.  Also, I have become more Afrocentric over the years, thus wanting to be associated with any and everything that captures the true essence of my African roots.

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Thanks again for reading. Remember to share and SUBSCRIBE.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow the blog IG: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

Like me on Facebook: Click Here.

 

Want to contact Rashika and find out more about her and/or her business?

Follow on Twitter : @rashi_belle

Like Rashibelle Naturals on Facebook: Click Here

 

Credits:

Photography: Nickii Photography

Lighting Director: @d.v.lux

Make Up: Jami Lake & Rashika Powell

Styling: Diedre McKenzie

Black & white clutch provided by: Yaad Trendz

11 Lessons from a Street-Smart Entrepreneur

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As a budding entrepreneur, I’ve made many mistakes; Some of which could have possibly been avoided had I read more books and gathered more information beforehand. Thankfully, it’s almost never too late to learn, grow and achieve your entrepreneurial goals. Having started reading and loving the learning experience, I want to share 11 lessons from one of the books I read earlier this year- “The Street-Smart Entrepreneur” by Jay Goltz. 

1. Take inventory of your assets and leverage them. If you’ve got it, use it, even if it’s just a great smile.

2. A healthy business starts with a healthy body. Your health is your best long term investment. Taking care of your health is one job you can’t delegate.

3. Get rid of employees who continually challenge your company’s standards.

4. Long term relationships are easy to get into and hard to get out of. Choose your partners carefully and always have an escape clause.

5. Motivation without education leads to frustration.

6. Screw ups happen when you delegate authority but deal with them. Don’t stop delegating.

7. A Litmus test – Ask yourself how you would feel if a given employee told you today that he/she was leaving. If you wouldn’t feel sorry to lose that employee, he/she probably should be off the payroll.

8. Continually ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing for my company right now, and how can I best leverage my abilities in the service of my company?”

9. Stop being so gullible. People lie. Fullstop.

10. Take time to read – Business magazines, books, articles, audiotapes.

11. Companies that have great customer service have great customer service training. SAVE is an easy way to remember how to deal with customer complaints.

S- ympathize- let them know you care and understand

A- ct- do something to resolve the problem

V-indicate – let customers know it’s not normal to make that kind of mistake

E-at -bare some of the expense or loss to redeem situation so as to make the customer happy and save company from losing a customer.

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Thanks for reading. I hope at least one of these lessons resonated with you. Please follow and SUBSCRIBE to my blog and get updated when there’s a new post by clicking the ‘subscribe’ button on the page.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow the blog IG: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

Like me on Facebook: Click Here.

10 Lessons From Six-Figure Women

One of the the goals that I’ve set for myself for 2016 is to read at least 24 books for the year. Most of the books that I will read will cover the areas of Personal Development, Relationships, Black History and Empowerment and Business, Entrepreneurial and Financial Knowledge. I’m going to use this medium as a means of sharing any note-worthy points or lessons from my readings. My hope is that it will inspire you peak your interest and inspire you to up your reading game. The first book that I read was the “Secrets of Six-Figure Women” by Barbara Stanny.

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Here are 10 lessons from six-figure women that I wish to share with you:

1. Working hard doesn’t mean working all the time. The critical factor is not the number of hours as much as the intensity of focus

2. Focus on fulfilling your values rather than just financial gain.

3. “If making money is the goal, you’ll never make enough to be happy. You’ll always want more. A lot of people fall into this trap and never find happiness because they’re always chasing dollars.” – Traci Jardins

4. Sometimes the real reason behind our denial is that we are afraid. An admission of truth makes us accountable to change.

5. Inherent in every intention is the mechanics for it’s fulfillment. Strong intentions have been known to produce sheer miracles. When an implicit desire- say, to be comfortable- is stronger than your spoken intention- to be profitable- you’ll stop yourself at every turn.You may say, and believe, you want to make more, but that’s not the message that’s reaching your brain. if you want to know what your strongest intention is regarding money, look at your life. if cash flow is a problem, if your job pays too little, if prosperity remains elusive, if you cant seem to find the time to do what it takes, then either you have not set an intention or you actually intend not to be financially successful. No decision, after all, is a decision.

6. “There are two games in life. The one most of us are playing, called Not to Lose, is an avoidance game. We’re so afraid of taking risks, looking bad, that we never really win.” –Larry Wilson The desire to avoid fear (whether it’s fear of rejection or disapproval, of success or of failure) is what keeps most of us in the Not to Lose game.

7. There’s a strong tendency when fear and stress come up to slip back to what feels safe, into the game of Not to Lose. The whole key to this strategy is to recognize, as quickly as possible, that you’re playing to be safe and not to succeed.

8. Asking for more is an act of self-love. Saying no is a show of self-respect. Refusing to settle is a statement of self-worth. And walking away is a sign of self-trust. Whenever you stand up for what you want, whenever you refuse to take less than what you deserve, you reinforce your self-love, self-respect, self-worth, and self-trust. In time, you’ll begin to notice a shift in how you feel about yourself. Speaking up becomes not something you should do,but something you have to do-because you know in your heart you’re worth it.

9. Declare an intention to attract supportive people in your life and be willing to let go of those who aren’t.

10. Go as far as you can using all that you’ve got.

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Thanks for reading. I hope at least one of these lessons resonated with you. Please follow and SUBSCRIBE to my blog and get updated when there’s a new post by clicking the ‘subscribe’ button on the page.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow the blog IG: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

Like me on Facebook: Click Here.

Men To Mend

Why are you trying to fix it?

Usually people tell you how to get married, how to find that perfect partner, in fact, there are probably thousands of books on that subject but this is not one of those books blog posts. On the contrary, this post is about telling you how to let go, how to leave that man who has been making your life a living hell and how to stay and be happy as a single woman. Doesn’t sound enticing? Well, that’s because this post is exactly written with you in mind. Let’s get this straight, I am not advocating for #TeamSingle and am in no way suggesting that single life is the overall best alternative. I am, however, advocating for #TeamHappy and am boldly suggesting that sometimes, as women, we stay and suffer in bad relationships just so we don’t have to be single. You may want to leave the relationship but it seems as if some invisible force keeps pulling you back in. Ashanti made melody to this kind of ‘situationship’ with her hit song when she said, “…see my days are cold without you and I’m hurting while I’m with you and when my heart can’t take no more I keep on running back to you..” If you want to have any shot at a happy and fulfilling life, then making the decision to leave him and sticking to it may be the best decision you will ever make in your entire life. No regrets. No bitterness.

You may ask what gives me the authority to write about this. Why should anyone listen to me? Though I opted for a Political Science degree instead of a degree in Counselling or Psychology, my experience as a friend, as a girlfriend and also as an ex give me the authority. I have been in relationships and I’ve been out of them. I have been all stages of single: miserably single, angrily single, sadly single, depressingly single and lastly, and wholly rewarding, happily single. I’ve heard many relationship stories, listened to my friends cry, (and I have cried on their shoulders as well) and I have realized a common thread. Hence, my authority is EXPERIENCE- mine and that of others. I’m telling you what you might not want to hear but what you will need to hear to move forward. There are just some relationships that aren’t worth saving. There’s nothing worse than to be tied to someone who doesn’t understand your destiny, someone who is abusive physically and/or verbally, or someone who just doesn’t feel the same way about you (anymore). I’ve said to my girlfriends that I wholeheartedly believe that until you have experienced true happiness alone/as a single woman, you will never be happy in a relationship that doesn’t involve you having to compromise almost sacrificially. What do I mean? The mind stretched by a new experience can never return to its old dimensions. Similarly, when you have experienced real happiness, it’s hard to ever be satisfied with anything less because there will always be that constant yearning to get back to that place or previous level of happiness. What some people do though is, in order to be ‘happy’, they compromise even to the point that they lose the very essence of themselves. They have smiles on their faces but their ‘happiness’ is counterfeit. It is only a façade.

On another note, there are some ladies who have had such a long history of bad relationships that they have become immuned or so accustomed to the pain that they would seemingly not know how to function without it. Some women actually don’t know what a good relationship entails as they have no immediate point of reference. Others may believe that they don’t deserve anything good and, as such, aren’t able to accept when good things or people appear in their lives. They are so used to the bad that it is as if they are out of place and not in their element without the bad relationship as a part of their life. I’m reminded of a television show that I watched where this man had been imprisoned most of his whole life and was to be released back into society yet he suffered with feelings of anxiety. As much as he considered freedom to be a good thing which would bring with it the opportunity to live how he chose, he was still anxious as he didn’t know exactly what to expect outside of prison walls. Prison life was more familiar and, as such, it didn’t seem that bad to him. The ‘evil’ he knew was better than the ‘good’ he didn’t know.

That’s exactly what it’s like when you know you need to let go and move on but you’re afraid of the unknown living single. Queens, let us not get trapped into that kind of thinking. I know that you share good times together, I know he has some good qualities and there was possibly a time when all was going great *insert other excuses here* but things have changed. It’s not that way anymore. Face the facts. He’s showing you how he feels about you with every action and IN-ACTION. Believe him. Get out now! Let it go! Stay single. You don’t have to succumb to your fear of never being able to find a good man or another man. Men love happy and purposeful women. It’s when you are happily single, living your life, focused on pursuing your dreams and becoming the best version of yourself that you’ll have more than enough options pursuing you. Don’t lose focus on what’s important- your happiness.

Have you ever looked back at your life and your past relationships and said “WTF?” It was while taking a pee on a well needed bathroom break that I somehow had my “what the fuckdge?” moment. I remembered how I had overstayed in a relationship plagued with infidelity and disrespect. WTF? Yes, that’s right, and I could go into all the excuses and explanations about how you had to be in the situation, know the full story and the details of why and how that happened to understand, but I won’t. Because just as wrong stupid as it sounds to you now, that’s how it hit me while taking this pee. I had stayed in a dysfunctional relationship for years all in the name of ‘love’. After I write this, I may as well hide my face because even though I was the one in the relationship, sometimes it’s not until you are sharing your situation with someone and you hear it out loud that you actually realize how stupid your actions were. You begin to wonder how a smart girl queen like yourself could play the fool for someone who wasn’t even worth it… or probably just wasn’t ready. Either way, how could I have subjected myself to living miserably?

And then it dawned on me how many times I’ve looked in from the outside on other people’s relationships and said, “How does she put up with that?”, “If that were me, I’d leave” or “One girl cya suh fool” But when I was in a situation where I should have left, I battered my esteem by putting up with too much bullsh*t for way too long. Queens, this is what bothers me about us. Why do we subject ourselves to bad relationships? How can a seemingly sensible Queen invite a joker man into her life and then, allows this man to make her do things she wouldn’t normally do, accept things she wouldn’t normally accept and bring out a side in her she is embarrassed even to remember? And then I begin to feel eternally grateful for my experiences and lessons that have brought me to this point of growth and happiness. I’ve learned that YOU determine your happiness by the decisions YOU make. You need to get that joker off your throne and make room for the King that God wants you to build an empire with. It is far better to stay single than to be miserable in a relationship. Why do you ignore your intuition and gut feelings? Why do you foolishly forgive? Why are you trying to fix what you know should stay broken? Contrary to the belief that you need someone to complete you, it actually takes two whole (complete) persons to make a relationship whole. Stay Single. Take this free alone time to become whole- to heal, mend, meditate, exercise, connect with friends, read positive books, pursue your goals, travel, explore, love (yourself), and learn new things. And wouldn’t it be nice if you continued doing all those things that make you happy whether or not, or even after, you found Mr. Right? You need to know that being ‘Happily Single’ is not an oxymoron. In fact, it’s just as possible, even if not as common, as being ‘Miserably Married’ after two years is. Stop focusing so much on men and start focusing more on MENDING.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

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Black Hair Matters (Part 2)

“Kingston College High School students in Jamaica are sent home, on an exam day, for wearing fades and mohawks. Black girls in the Bahamas are sent home for Twist Outs. Black girls in Barbados are sent home for Afros; And Bantu Knots (Chiney Bumps) are deemed inappropriate for school.  Some may say that the students are at fault. They know the school rule and should have, therefore, adhered to it. After all, as one teacher puts it, “school rule is school rule. Abide or get out!” But I’ll address that later. For now, I have a deeper concern.

Responding to accusation that the school is lenient with students of Indian and Chinese orientation, the Kingston College Principal said,” students expect them to bald their head like mine but it can’t be that the same rule applies for obvious reason. We have to use our discretion.” It is more worrying than hypocritical that the same authority that sees it fit to suspend black boys for wearing Fades, have seen it fit to use their discretion biases when it comes to students of Indian, Asian and Caucasian descent wearing the exact hairstyles deemed inappropriate when worn by their black schoolmates. What are these ‘obvious reasons’ to which he alludes? Apparently fades are only appropriate when worn by Indians, Caucasians, Asians, Soldiers, Presidents and Prime Ministers… but NOT black students.”– Excerpt from Black Hair Matters Part 1

“Having had the wrong kind of education, the Negro has become his own greatest enemy.”– Marcus Garvey

“We speak often of modernized curricula at the secondary level, and the need to pay attention not just to academic/technical areas of study, but to the sense of identity that young people develop as students. Part of this identity is of course the history of their country and region, and their place in this history. Not just in the Caribbean but wherever young, Black women live, we are told that our hair is somehow inadequate: it is ‘hard’ or ‘knotty’. It is not straight ‘enough’, although enough for whom or what one cannot be sure. And where we are kindly allowed to wear our hair naturally as it grows from our heads, there are caveats: as long as it is pulled back or braided tight or otherwise tamed.”[1]

Though no one can force someone to start seeing and appreciating black beauty, it would be beneficial for us to start questioning our beliefs about race, beauty and natural hair. If we recognized that those who created the dominant cultural ideas we’ve internalized did so for their benefit, and not ours, we would be better able to understand that the psychological conflict this internalization causes is self-destructive. Self-hatred continues the cycle of self-degradation, and it’s impossible to teach our children about their self worth, and get them to take their history seriously, if our own sense of self is distorted through a white lens. What are the lessons being taught to us as a society that teachers would think sending a child home for wearing their natural hair out is acceptable and excusable?

“Among my primary concerns is the message being sent to young women of African heritage in this country that their natural selves are of necessity untidy, unsuitable or otherwise inadequate. The argument that “students can do whatever they like once they enter the real world, but this is school” also misunderstands the role of formal education and the process of young people’s development. School is the real world. Young people are understanding themselves and their environment, and while becoming who they will be, they also are.”[2]

Lessons of self- confidence, self- worth and self- identity have to be incorporated into the collective consciousness. Therefore, children have to be socialized to believe their self worth. I’ve heard parents tell their children, “Nuh deh wid nobody blacker than u madda or fada!

Choose a man wid pretty hair suh yuh pickney can have pretty hair

Nuh bring home nuh black picky picky head man/gyal fi meet mi

I’ve heard teachers tell children,

“Yuh see how yuh black” as if being black was some sort of leprosy and something to be avoided or ashamed of.

Children spend most of their time at home and school. The only way to undo all what we have learned as it relates to self hate is to constantly drive home the message of self love. The brain is a creature of repetition; whoever gets at it the most will rule it. The brain cannot resist the temptation to believe something that is regularly presented before it or that it’s regularly fed. So that’s what makes teachers’ jobs so hard yet critical. Children only spend approximately 8 hours at school. What do they spend the other 16 hours doing, hearing, and watching? The formative years of conditioning are from birth to 12. It is counterproductive that we (parents, teachers, society) instill values consistent with self hate in those critical years and then try to change them after they have already been habituated and developed personalities and hard habits. As the Jamaican proverb appropriately states, “ben’ the tree when it young, when it old, it will bruck” What people have ever been freed by giving the best years of their children to their ‘oppressor’? The ‘oppressor’, in this instance, is the value system of white bias.[3]

We have to replace the old zero-tolerance approach with an approach built on the conviction that suspension and expulsion don’t solve problems at the root of student misbehavior. Continuing to promote zero tolerance, masking it as just a commitment to discipline and blind social conformity, we are failing future generations of black kinky hair students. When you fail to engage your school boards in the conversation around changing these outdated rules, that’s your contribution to the old guard. Yes, systems matter, and yes, there are villains and bad apples out there. But we’ve got to be way more honest and own our contribution to all of this. Our contribution can be what we do but also what we fail to do. Let’s make it personal, and admit our own fault and contributions to this value system that promotes ‘white bias’. I know that’s hard to hear. But yes, you and I, intelligent, well-intentioned warriors of discipline — we contribute to the system when we say nothing and do nothing. If we remain silent in matters of injustice, we have chosen the side of the oppressor.

I can see somebody reading and saying, “Look at her telling us not to uphold school rules and preaching about natural hair like she is more enlightened and confident than all of us. But she can say wah she waan say, she don’t have to deal with these unruly kids on a daily basis? and who are you to say we have issues of self hate just because we’re not natural?” I promise you, my intention is not to seem like I am the Malcolm X of natural hair advocacy or that I am righteous and have all the answers. It’s purely out of love for my people when I suggest that rejecting straightened hair is symbolic of a deeper act of rejecting the belief that straightening hair and other forms of grooming which are deemed ‘socially acceptable’ are the only means of looking ‘presentable’, ‘formal’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘groomed’, ‘appropriate’, ‘respectable’, ‘neat’, ‘professional’ and attaining success in society. I, like the other person, am still on that journey of undoing and unlearning all the blatant and subliminal negative messages that were fed to me in my formative years.

The first step to ‘rehabilitation’ is admission and realizing a need for change. Let’s consciously correct our subconscious thoughts, our conversations, and our actions. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. In fact, I have to stop myself from saying and doing things daily that contradict this empowerment of which I speak of. If your ‘discipline’ undermines the values of self love, self worth and self acceptance, it’s time for it to be disrupted.

Others should not be able to dictate to us what is beautiful and we just sit powerlessly regurgitating those beauty standards. Racism ‘works’ by encouraging the devaluation of self-identity by the victims themselves, and that re-centering of a sense of pride is a prerequisite for resistance and reconstruction. Let us take charge of the messages we consume daily and the messages we allow our children to consume. Our hair doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’! Society’s view of beauty is what is broken. I’ve been told more often than not that I’m prejudiced towards women with natural hair. I am not. Some of my most beloved friends have processed hair. However, I choose to highlight beauties with natural hair through this medium because, as a black woman, I understand that I needed to see positive images of black natural hair beauties and, by highlighting them, I am contributing, if only minutely, to my people seeing themselves as BEAUTIFUL. I am challenging the idea that there is one standard of beauty. Good hair is not only straight hair or hair with curl patterns closer to Caucasian, Indian or Asian textures. ‘Good hair’ is HEALTHY hair whether it be kinky, curly, coily, nappy, or straight.

“Until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

We are Kings and Queens whose history have been distorted because we allowed someone else to tell it. We were never slaves. We were enslaved. Two different things. I see a need to incorporate and structure our history in the school curriculum in a way that empowers us as a people and that builds self esteem. But who would teach it if there are teachers who themselves need these lessons? Black Hair Matters. Until these hair rules are applied unbiasedly to all kinds of hair then you are asking us to accept that we are ‘valorized according to the tilt of our whiteness’ and that ‘rules are rules’ and must be followed regardless. Back in the day you may have blindly followed and upheld those hair rules but now that you know better or at least should know better (even if only after reading this). Don’t you think it would be irresponsible and cowardice to go back to enforcing those kinds of ‘rules’? The mind stretched by an idea can never be returned to its original dimensions. No man can grow and remain the same. Are you going to stunt positive growth and awareness because of fear and because ‘it has always been done that way’?

Let us be brave if only for the future generation.

Let us not apologise for the texture of our hair and for being disruptive about policies and changes that affect our race.

Let us not judge our beauty based on European standards or we will forever believe we are ‘ugly’ and ‘inadequate’. We are not Europeans. We are AFRICANS… and our hair (and lives) matter.
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Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

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[1] Letter from group of Harrison College Alumni in Barbados

[2] Letter from group of Harrison College Alumni in Barbados

[3] Dr. Umar Johnson

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